“There is no grief like the grief that does not speak”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Apart from the visual arts, writing can also be very therapeutic during your griefwork. Why? It helps you strive for understanding, to reach inside yourself to find hidden emotions. And once you draw them out and get them down on paper, it's done! Your mind can rest. It's kind of like writing a to-do or shopping list. Once you've written it down, it frees your mind of the task of trying to remember.
Many's the time that I sat down and wrote out my thoughts on paper when I was
troubled. Anger and fear seemed to be the biggest motivators. After I wrote it
all down, I felt much better. I almost never gave the letter to the target
person. That was not the purpose, and should not be your purpose in keeping a
Yes, keeping a grief journal can be very cathartic (cleansing) during your days of grief and sadness.
Buy a nice bound journal book to keep your daily thoughts and doodles in. You
can find them at office supply stores, or even the supermarket. Set aside just
15 minutes a day, either in the morning or before going to bed at night. Date
Don't worry about grammar or spelling, or neatness. Just spill your thoughts onto the paper. It's best to do a grief journal written in longhand rather than typed on a computer, as it gives you more time to think and is more personal and warm in feel.
Write for your eyes only, and store your journal in a safe place. When you write privately, you can express yourself freely, putting voice to your most vivid and complicated emotions without worrying about what anyone else might think. This is your own private connection to your heart and soul. And it's between you and your lost one... and no one else.
Jan and Jules Broom lost their beautiful daughter Shannon in a car accident in 1998. After her death, they discovered Shannon's "Gratitude Journal", which contained a remarkable array of thoughts, artwork and poetry.
As part of their griefwork, the Broom's created a set of bookmarks celebrating her works, and have periodically offered them to other grieving souls on request.
Read about Shannon and the Broom's "Bookmark Therapy" here:
One activity a bereaved family can do together is to make a memory book, or
tribute scrapbook, about the lost loved one. Children can also contribute to the
project, and they will find much comfort from it.
Begin by collecting information and memorabilia about the lost one. Outline his or her life, to give a little structure and continuity to the book. Get everyone contributing information and stories to the effort. Storytelling is a natural part of the bereavement process and can be healing for everyone involved.
Have each person contribute their own poems and drawings, including the children. Gather snapshots, ribbons and awards, ticket stubs or menus from special events, the CD jacket from their favorite album, a corsage from the prom, any other items that have meaning from your lost one's life.
Then make a visit to a crafts store, office supply, (even some WalMarts have a "scrapbooking" section now). Wander the aisles looking for inspiration, and buy several tools and items that will fit with your project. Get creative! Bring the kids with you.
Then set aside an hour at a time for the family to gather and create this special family memory book. This project can help you all to reminisce and come to mourn a more realistic image of the lost family member.
Crafting a scrapbook in memory of a
lost loved one creates a living legacy.
It helps balance the feelings of finality caused by the loss. The
tribute scrapbook will be especially valuable for children to revisit as
they grow up and learn to deal with the loss, throughout their lives.
Okay, so you have put together a beautiful memorial scrapbook. It can be passed around and shared among family members. But what if you could actually print up several copies of your new memory book? Did you know you could easily have bound copies of your memorial book published for under $10 each? It's a snap with "on-demand" internet publishing sites. Two good ones are: Lulu.com and CreateSpace.com.
A printed book would rely more heavily on the words, the written content, than a scrapbook does. However, you can easily scan important pictures and memorabilia for inclusion in the project. Collect writings, poems or letters your loved one wrote. Get written contributions from the immediate family and closest friends, biographical information or reminiscing. Spur them on by asking them to complete the sentence "I remember when..." .
Then assemble it all into a book. This activity takes a lot of time and work,
but is an effective distraction and outlet for your "grief energy".
Friends and family will treasure their own personal copy as a lasting tribute to
the lost one.
At Lulu or CreateSpace, you can print one copy or thousands at very affordable prices. Get the details from their websites.
Nana's Fudge 1920
2 c. sugar
Mix and cook all ingredients except vanilla and nuts. When it boils up once, lower the heat to a xlow boil. After 5 min. begin testing for the soft ball stage (1/2 tsp. fudge in cup of ice water).
When you can pick up a soft ball with 3 fingers, it's ready. Cook 1 min. more. Remove from stove and cool completely before stirring. Add vanilla and nuts and beat until it looks like glass and begins to set. Pour into a small square cake pan.
Cut when hard, and enjoy. Save some for mother and dad. Be a good scout and clean up the kitchen afterwards.
Harriet Hodgson, a well-known health and wellness writer, proposes yet another way to create a lasting tribute to a lost loved one... make a memory cookbook out of their best recipes! The fudge recipe above was one of her mother-in-laws favorites, and was placed in their family cookbook.
This is a lovely way to share the skills of prior generations with the younger ones, and spur memories of family picnics, holidays and much-loved snacks and treats.
Most women from "the olden days" had a collection of their most-used recipes... either in a shoebox, handwritten in a notebook, or on index cards. Look for family favorite recipes that are sure to be used and enjoyed.
Next, type the recipes into a word processor. One or two recipes per page is best, and you may want to scan old family photos into your computer to add at the top of some of the pages. Limit to about 25 pages, then print them out. You can then punch holes in the sides of the pages and place in a small ring binder. Or check out the inexpensive book printing services noted above.
What a loving and lasting tribute! If you are
looking for a meaningful (and practical) way to remember a loved one, then
compile a memory cookbook to share with family members and friends!